15 Simple Rules for Riding the New York City Subway
Because the subway has been my primary form of transportation for the past dozen years, I feel qualified to share with you what I believe are some fundamental practices when boarding a train. Before you swipe that Metrocard, I hope you’ll keep the following in mind:
Before you enter…
-You should know that no one here calls it “The El” or “The Metro”. It’s simply the subway.
-Don’t block traffic by wrapping up your phone call on the station steps. Can you really not sense the mass annoyance?
-Don’t wait to look for your Metrocard while you’re standing in front of the turnstile. Step aside and rifle through your bag out of the way of traffic. We’re very big on traffic flow here.
-Let the people off the train before getting on. You’re probably not going to get a seat anyway, so just chill out already.
For your comfort…
-Have a seat; take a load off. But please–don’t offer the seat adjacent to yours to your handbag. A purse is not a person, and it is not fatigued. Know who is? The elderly and the pregnant. Offer a seat to them instead. Always.
-Bring reading material, music, or an electronic toy of some kind. It helps pass the time and prevents you from having to make eye contact with anyone.
-If you feel claustrophobic or dizzy, try to look for a pocket of empty space. Looking straight up or straight down usually works for me. Just try really hard not to vomit. The only thing worse than a train that smells like chicken bones is a train that smells like puke. Plus, if you do vomit, be aware that the first thing 200 people are going to talk about at work is the girl who ralphed on their train this morning.
-If you’re not sure where you’re headed, ask a local for directions. Most really are friendly and willing to help. No, seriously.
For everyone else’s comfort…
-Groom yourself at home. This includes applying eyeliner, flossing teeth, clipping finger and/or toe nails, and changing a maxi-pad. I didn’t see it firsthand, but a friend of a friend of mine swears that she did.
-If you must nap, make sure you learn how to do it so that your head hangs forward. Do not nod out and nestle your head on a stranger’s shoulder. That punch in the face will wake you right up, and you need your beauty rest.
-Sing only if you have talent. Breakdance only if you are 100% positive you’re good enough to not kick someone in the genitals. Never preach, proselytize or yell about the world ending this year.
-Do not touch or expose yourself. In the same vein, do not stare at people, particularly if you look as if you may suddenly feel the need to touch or expose yourself. If you feel yourself getting too excited, repeat the following: “I am on a subway car. There is absolutely nothing sexy about this environment.”
Please be aware that…
-If it looks too good to be true–it is. When a train car is empty, it’s because there’s a homeless person who smells of sadness inside.
-Poles were designed to be shared. Don’t hug, straddle or cradle them. Not only is it selfish, it’s a terrific way to get herpes.
-Your egg sandwich tastes delicious to you but smells like a fart to everyone else.